Shifting the world’s reliance on fossil fuels to renewable energy sources is important, certainly. But the world’s best chance for achieving timely, disaster-averting climate change may actually be a vegetarian diet eating less meat, according to a recent report in World Watch Magazine.
(While I’d happily nudge the world toward a vegetarian diet, the report authors are more measured and simply suggest diets containing less meat.)
“The entire goal of today’s international climate objectives can be achieved by replacing just one-fourth of today’s least eco-friendly food products with better alternatives,” co-author Robert Goodland, a former World Bank Group environmental advisor wrote in an April 18 blog post on the report.
A widely cited 2006 report estimated that 18% of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions were attributable to cattle, buffalo, sheep, goats, camels, pigs and poultry. However, analysis performed by Goodland, with co-writer Jeff Anhang, an environmental specialist at the World Bank Group’s International Finance Corporation, found that figure to now more accurately be 51%.
Consequently, state the pair, replacing livestock products with meat alternatives would “have far more rapid effects on greenhouse gas emissions and their atmospheric concentrations — and thus on the rate the climate is warming — than actions to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy.”